And now in lighter vein an essay on: GROUTING – WHO DOES IT

And now in lighter vein an essay on:
Did you know that nearly all geologists inherently have
NATURAL GAIETY? Well that is what that very famous geologist.
Maurice Lugeon said in 1935 [1]. What's more, he tells
geologists that they have to have positive opinions and
mustn't be cagey and try to cover themselves by saying
"Maybe...". or "Perhaps..." when asked to give opinions about
grouting. This admonition to his geological fellows is
accompanied by a comparison with the down-to-earth characters
of the engineering fraternity. Have things changed since then:
are geologists still prone to hedge their bets with all sorts
of provisos?
And are engineers still dawn-to-earth (perhaps
more accurately down-to-rock in this context)?
Well if you have sorted this one out to your satisfaction, now
stomach the next piece of advice Lugeon gave: the "stone
breaker" (his affectionate name for geologists) must not be
afraid to back the contractor against the consultant,
supervisors et al, if he thinks he is right. He might have
everyone against him - "just too bad" are the immortal words
of consolation - the poor fellow has to do everything
possible. WITHOUT BEING STUBBORN, to impose his view on
everyone else! Now do you remember the opening comment about
these stone breakers having a natural gaiety? They'd need to
have to, to stop them getting the proverbial "rocks in the
head". Incidentally, how would they classify those rocks?
Intrusive. I suppose. They certainly wouldn't be gneiss, so
can't be metamorphic. Diorite seems appropriate if an early
demise under the correct conditions becomes the poor fellow's
final fate. Notice that he didn't include lady geologists in
his ungallant urgings: they were scarce in those days.
Lugeon goes on a lot more in this vein, but let us be content
with one more extract: "A geologist working with engineers
must always remain a naturalist ..... using only natural
science... and not encroach on the engineer's province".
Perhaps this has suffered in the translation from the French:
how many geologists these days describe their calling in those
terms? But the bit about encroaching on the engineer's
province sounds good - from the engineer's viewpoint anyway.
These geologists must be real characters at times. Sabarly,
who provided the above translation of Lugeon, is one himself,
and gives a most entertaining version of his views [1].
apt imperatives about getting wrong interpretations
confrontation between the geologist and the naked truth" he
blithely mentions how exploratory bores hate to intercept
karst. A lot of holes drilled in an area showed no karst, but
when excavated it was found that "the karst system found its
way cheerfully between them. One of the holes, which had gone
through a large cave, was perverse enough to follow dawn
inside a large stalactite, which met up with a stalagmite".
How's that for getting sound geological advice!
Of course. if you have been following me this far you have
probably said to yourself: what about people who combine both
the geology and the engineering - the engineering geologist? I
have noticed that these people mostly tend to be in the same
camp as their initial training: if they started as geologists
and later picked up the engineering side, they think like
geologists, and vice versa. There are exceptions to every
rule, and some notable exceptions to this one. So be it. But
why the distinction anyway? Well.....
Can it be said that geological training gives a good grounding
(or is it rocking - not the sort that puts the baby to sleep
though) in understanding jointing and cracking and all the
other things to be filled with the grout, whereas engineering
enlightened engineer all the clues on the grout itself, how it
flows in the cracks, how to make it and deliver it? Some broad
generalisations there? But some basis of truth, in many cases.
The two disciplines obviously complement each other. and like
love and marriage. "You can't have one without the other"...
or at least ..You shouldn't.
Looking back over quite a number of years, and comparing those
grouting jobs run by geologists with those run by engineers
and those run by neither, in a patriachal pose I offer some
a)Geologists tend towards thicker grouts; perhaps there
is a mental analogy with that red-hot molten magma flowing
dawn from some volcanic vent or with the sub-surface flows
that they know so much about.
b)Engineers tend towards thinner grouts (with some
exceptions though, including myself), perhaps echoing their
basic fluid mechanics training which is almost entirely in
terms of water. Rheology, the study of viscous flow is rarely
encountered in basic training: once it is mastered, though, it
opens up a whole new field of understanding.
c) Jobs run by neither have often tended to just follow
some previous job without real adaption to site conditions.
The sort of character who runs such jobs often has many years
of experience, but tends to keep it a secret from anyone else.
Cynics have suggested the secrecy is to cover limited
knowledge and understanding of the subject, and have bestowed
the nickname: "Grand-daddy grouters".
d)When it comes to the machinery side of the subject,
geological training isn't much help: engineers are in their
And who will be the Solomon who sums this up? Not I.
[1] Quoted in “Engineering Geology and Dam Foundations”.
F.Sabarly. Second International Congress of the International
Association of Engineering Geology. Brazil, 1974 Vol 2 paper
VI-GR 1.